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Iowa State Daily

Weingarten: Reading list for book reviews

Photo by Alex Block on Unsplash

A reader left a comment on one of my book reviews inquiring about whether or not I had a reading list for my book reviews. First off, I am overjoyed to hear that some of you would like to read the books I review. I have compiled a brief list of books that I will be reading over the next few months, so you can expect to see their reviews over the course of the spring semester. 

If anyone would like to have a forum to discuss the books I review, I will consider utilizing a platform where that can take place. It is all up to you, the readers, so please let me know what sounds interesting. 

Below are the books I have in mind for the rest of the semester (this may increase or decrease depending on what is most interesting to me at the moment, but I will do my best to stick to the schedule; they are not in order). I also generally read one fiction book and one non-fiction book at the same time, so if this list seems extensive, that may be why. There will also be less non-fiction as I usually read them slower for clarity and understanding.  



“If Beale Street Could Talk” – James Baldwin

“Another Country” – James Baldwin

“Just Above My Head” – James Baldwin

“Until August” – Gabriel Garcia Marquez

“Seize the Day” – Saul Bellow

“Crime and Punishment” – Fyodor Dostoevsky

“The Brothers Karamazov” – Fyodor Dostoevsky

“The Idiot” – Fyodor Dostoevsky

“Don Quixote” – Cervantes

“Money” – Martin Amis

“Time’s Arrow” – Martin Amis

“Inside Story” – Martin Amis

“Lolita” – Vladimir Nabokov

“Pale Fire” – Vladimir Nabokov

“Collected Stories” – Vladimir Nabokov



“The Ruin of Kasch” – Roberto Calasso

“The War Against Cliche” – Martin Amis

“Genesis: Translation and Commentary” – Robert Alter

“The Tragedy of Great Power Politics” – John Mearsheimer

“1948: A History of the First Arab-Israeli War” – Benny Morris

Also, thank you to the reader who suggested “Gravity’s Rainbow” by Thomas Pynchon. This may also make the list in the future. Any alterations I make will be communicated to all of you. 

There will be incoming reviews about books I have already read this year that will not make the list. I have also not placed dates on these books, but I am simply hoping to encourage you to read whatever appeals most to you, not simply what I am reading at the moment. As stated above, reach out to me if you want me to create a more formal book club type of arrangement. 

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  • J

    Johnny A | Mar 21, 2024 at 8:28 am

    Great list. I recommend one of the great post-colonial thinkers in modern fiction, Viet Thanh Nguyen. His first novel “The Sympathizer” won the Pulitzer, and its sequel came out a couple years ago. Most recently, his memoir/history/memorial was released. Whether short fiction, novels, autobiography, or text book, he is a force.

    Speaking of post-colonialism, it would be great to have counterpoints to the occasional conservative pieces that are published in the Opinion section. It doesn’t have to be you, per se. But a well-reasoned response to any/all the half-truths in those pieces is of paramount importance in an election year.

    • D

      David Jackson | Mar 23, 2024 at 4:54 pm

      If there are so many “half-truths” being put out in conservative opinion pieces here, wouldn’t you be able to point that out in the comments? Or by half-truths, do you just mean things you’re incapable of disproving that question the narrative you’ve been conditioned to feel good about believing?

      • J

        Johnny A | Mar 25, 2024 at 9:00 am

        Speaking of disproving things you may have been conditioned to think about DJT, I’ll take up your rejoinder while also defending my position. I’ll take a curated look at broad truths DJT expects his voters to believe. I will provide specific examples:

        1. False: DJT is the victim in every sense e.g. “stolen” election. True: The claims have been proven false by zero of over 70 cases brought to the courts; why? Not a rigged court system (many of which had a judge appointed by DJT). So, again, why? because even DJT’s lawyers know that willfully lying in court will get them disbarred.

        2. False: DJT is out to save the country. True: DJT is out to save one person: himself. Not you, not me, not the next generation (my nieces and nephews; your kids, your nieces and nephews), not the “persecuted” and fearful replacement theorists. Of course, all of this is masked by the divisive Project 2025, DJT and Steven Miller’s raft of fearmongering policy that would, among other things, replace all non-partisan government workers with loyalists. I don’t know what to call that other than a monarchy. Pluralism is fundamentally messy and difficult, but it is a fundamental part of democracy. So perhaps democracy is finished for this country if they decide to re-install DJT.

        3. False: DJT is not compromised by his half-a-billion-dollar financial troubles. True: Whether a person is for democracy or for king and crown, it’s pretty scary to have a man running for the highest seat in the land so mired in debt. He is implicitly (if not outright) open to financial influence of, among other things, foreign governments (those darn Chinese; those rascally Russians). DJT’s need for money (not to mention his need to prove he’s a smart, rich businessman) is proven time and again. For example, DJT refused to open a blind trust during his presidency and therefore reaped the profits of foreign dignitaries staying at his DC hotel. In addition, a $2 billion investment capital from KSA given to DJT-adjacent Jared Kushner by KSA.

        4. False: DJT is a man of the people, is for the common person. True: It’s bad enough that nearly ALL politicians in our system of government are beholden to the cannibalistic corporatists and lobbyists, two groups who, not surprisingly, are not out to save you, me, or the next generation. Meanwhile, the fearful keep searching for someone to blame (as they always have throughout history). But the civilized society (an aspirational ideal, to be sure) is one that searches for compromises, a way to include everyone…as impossible as that may seem…or, as “communistic” as that may seem. Otherwise, common Americans like you and I are not exceptional; we are serfs, just like anyone else in the world under an oligarchy or a monarchy or a dictatorship.

        • D

          David Jackson | Mar 27, 2024 at 8:28 pm

          “counterpoints to the occasional conservative pieces that are published in the Opinion section”
          -Johnny A.

          Have you read a single one of these arguments in any “conservative opinion piece” here on the Iowa State Daily? Or is this just the regurgitation of strawman infused Trump Derangement Syndrome talking points anyone who gets their worldview fed to them from vote-blue-no-matter-who corporate media believes repeating makes them sound morally superior?

          Are you capable of articulating how “DJT” is demonstrably the greater of the two evils we are given? Able to show using facts how the policies he had, or is proposing, will result in a net detriment trade off vs another four years of the Biden administration’s policies? Because right now it doesn’t look like it.

          Out of pure morbid curiosity to how you’ll respond, some counter points.

          1. Trump’s own ego is to blame for the wild claims of open fraud when all he would have really had to do was point out the exploitation of COVID panic and lack of security of mass mail in voting, which has been found unconstitutional in multiple of the states it was used. When voting stops in the middle of the night, and suddenly thousands of votes are magically found for only the loosing candidate, that’s not called legitimate to anyone with a triple digit IQ. Not to mention the open admission of election “fortification” you can still find on Time magazine’s website.

          2. Even if he were out only for himself, I notice you didn’t argue how that would be worse than the disaster that Biden has been. His first term was wildly better for all of us than this mess. And the word you’re looking for is re-elected, as he was duly elected the first time, despite the leftist hypocrites who claimed he wasn’t legitimately in office and even supported civil unrest now calling people doing often less than they did “insurrectionists.” Nobody is “installed” unless the election gets “fortified” there Johnny.

          3. His financial troubles are the result of banana republic political persecution by the career bureaucrat elite attempting to make sure they keep their monopoly of power in the uni-party of the career political class. I bet it burned when he said he was posting bond with cash yesterday didn’t it lol.

          4. Trump may not be a “man of the people” but I dare you to try and argue who has been in a very long time. And again, still waiting for any dispassionate analysis showing Trump’s policies will be worse for the US than Biden’s from anyone on the left. All I ever get is hyperbolic sloganeering, and it’s usually just a countdown until the words f@ascist or n@zi get thrown out in a fit of rage.

          Here’s a personal test you can administer to find out if you’re a free-thinking adult vs a mindless partisan tool. Name at least 2 things your party of choice gets wrong/you disagree with. If you can’t do that immediately, without thinking about it, you’re just someone else’s useful idiot.